08/23/2001 11:00PM

WTBA Lads a tough one with such a varied cast


AUBURN, Wash. - Eleven 2-year-old colts and geldings will contest Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong, $40,000 WTBA Lads Stakes at Emerald Downs, and it would appear to be a risky proposition to disregard any of them.

The highly competitive field includes three local stakes winners, several impressive maiden winners, and an intriguing invader from British Columbia's Hastings Park.

The Canadian shipper is Magnemite, a Vying Victor colt from the Knights Choice mare Stitch in Time who sold for $11,000 to owner Rodger Lam at last year's WTBA Winter Sale.

Magnemite, who ran third in the 6 1/2-furlong Ladnesian Stakes at Hastings after collecting his maiden win over that track's nursery course. Local contenders include Captain Condo Stakes winner Kenny Hawk, Emerald Express winner Melcapwalker and NW Stallion Stakes hero Devil's Enemy, all of whom should draw strong support.

Also dangerous are American Writer, Bold Ranger, Finleycreek, and King Lex, all of whom are coming off sharp wins over strong maiden fields, and Premium Blend, who could be the value play.

Premium Blend, from the barn of Larry Pierce, defeated stakes runners Slew of the Night and Melcapwalker when he collected his maiden win on June 24, then ran a troubled seventh to Melcapwalker in the July 14 Emerald Express at six furlongs.

"He was in trouble three times away from the gate that day, and he must have lost at least eight lengths," said Pierce. "He was only beaten 4 1/2 lengths that day, so I don't think there is any doubt he can run with these."